How to Help Muslims Get Married: Tips for Parents
That said, the parents have a tremendous responsibility in the process. They:
b. thoroughly screen and check proposals, call references
c. act as the third party between the two candidates
2. Talk to your kids about what you both want.
Winnipeg, Canada-based Muslim social worker Shahina Siddiqui says parents have to sit down with their kids and openly discuss what kind of husband or wife s/he is looking for.
You may live in the same household as your children and think you know them inside out, but many parents are shocked to find their kids’ ideas about who they want to marry can be drastically different from what they expected.
Marrying cousin X or Y from “back home” may just not be acceptable.
Or the nice boy or girl from the local cultural community who is highly educated and very well-off financially may be of little interest to a son or daughter because of their lack of Islamic knowledge and practice.
Open-mindedness and clear communication may reveal a side of your kids that may be hard to swallow. However, you must remember that marriage primarily affects the two people involved in the relationship. They must like the person they are marrying.
3. Clearly outline the rules of meeting a potential mate
Siddiqui says parents must set boundaries as to how and when they will meet prospective candidates.
Too often, Muslims stray by thinking seeking a partner is an excuse to engage in dating. Dating occurs when a man and woman spend time alone together. This is usually not with the intention of getting involved in a long-term or serious relationship. It is just to “have fun”. There is no little to no serious discussion of future plans and/or the intention to marry.
Dating can occur amongst two Muslims seeking marriage if they want to go out alone, with no third party present to “get to know each other”. This can also develop through hours of unnecessary phone or e-mail conversations.
Setting the boundaries of meeting a prospective partner is your responsibility as a Muslim parent.
The rules to remember include the following: the meeting must be chaperoned so the two are not alone together, both prospective partners are lowering the gaze and both are sticking to the topic in the course of discussions.
One suggestion Siddiqui gives in this regard is to avoid late night meetings between prospective candidates and chaperones because at the end of the day, people are tired, their defenses are down. For this kind of a meeting, all parties need to be very alert.
4. Give an allotted time for the meeting
Meetings between prospective spouses must not last for an extremely long time, like being away most of the day to meet this person. Parents should give an allotted time for the two to meet and talk.
5. Investigate thoroughly
One of the reasons for many divorces is the lack of proper investigation of a prospective marriage partner before marriage.
Parents have this heavy responsibility of finding out as much as possible about the individual who will possibly spend the rest of their life with their son or daughter.
Investigation does not mean just asking two or three family friends or community members. Deeper digging is necessary.
The case of one Imam’s daughter in the U.S. serves as a chilling example.
This Imam asked a Muslim brother to check out a boy who was seeking marriage with his daughter. On the surface, all seemed fine. But upon further investigation it was discovered that he drinks alcohol. This fact was also confirmed by two other Muslims. The mediator in this case told Sound Vision that he never would have guessed, looking at the boy, that he drinks.
Aneesah Nadir, Director of Social Services for the Arizona Muslim Family Health and Social Services in Tempe provides another good way of fact checking on a proposal.
One sister she knows received a proposal from a brother who lived in a different city. To check this prospective partner out, one of her relatives went to the mosque this person attends and observed and talked to him without him knowing he was her relative. Her relative found the brother unsuitable and let her know about this.
6. Be honest
Parents as well as individuals looking for a spouse must be honest with regards to their credentials, background and other pertinent details about their personal lives.
Inflating your son or daughter’s educational credentials, for example, will only backfire when checking reveals this is untrue.
7. Take your time.
Siddiqui stresses the importance of not rushing a son or daughter into marriage. If you find someone for your son or daughter at a two-day Islamic conference, for example, and this is the initiation of the process, more time must be given to checking facts and references.
Ideally, she says references should always be asked for and checked out before meeting in person. And this goes for boys and girls.
8. Never Be pushy
(Another true story)
A young Muslim sister, practicing, Hijab-wearing, bright (she was studying at one of America’s most prestigious universities) stepped in front of a moving train in Chicago and killed herself.
Because her parents refused to listen to what she was looking for in a husband. They wanted to hand pick and completely decide who she would spend the rest of her life with.
This incident is an extreme example of the kind of pressure some parents apply to get their kids to marry the “right one”, often in complete variance with what the young man or woman is looking for.
Needless to say, this is not condoned by Islam. Neither is suicide as a way out of difficult situations.
Another form of pressure is put on those who are given a proposal. It is not uncommon to see sisters or their parents pursued by the parents of others who are interested in their son or daughter. This can even reach the level of harassment at times.
Forced marriages are not only unIslamic. They pose a danger to your children’s future, as well as that of your grandchildren. Would you want your grandchildren to experience the pain and emotional turmoil of a divorce which could have been avoided if both parties had had more say in the choice of a partner?